pa capitol dome sil


The Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg.

HARRISBURG – The state Senate voted 42-8 to approve a $34 billion state budget for 2019-20, sending the measure to the governor. The House passed the spending plan earlier this week.

Gov. Tom Wolf has already signaled that he supports the measure.

“By and large on this particular budget, there’s a lot to like,” said state Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre County. “What we tried to do is fund what works.”

Democrats, including state Sen. Christine Tartaglione, D-Philadelphia, criticized the failure to include a minimum wage increase in the plan.

Republicans said the measure doesn’t raise taxes, it’s fiscally responsible, and it funds important programs – including added funds to cover the cost to counties to investigate child abuse, along with new funding for domestic violence and rape crisis shelters.

Wolf had called for an increase in the minimum wage to $12 an hour in his February budget proposal.

“People are choosing between food on the table, medicine, rent,” Tartaglione said of the minimum wage increase. “They need this. Every state bordering Pennsylvania has raised the minimum wage. Some have raised it twice. Now is the time to do it.”

State Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia County, said the last time the state increased the minimum wage, it did so as a standalone measure instead of part of the state budget.

As a result, the debate over whether the minimum wage should be increased will shift into the fall session or some other time, he said.

Gordner said the increased funding for abuse victims is important. The budget will provide an addition $34 million to help counties investigate child protection cases. It’s a 2.8 percent increase.

The spending plan also provides 10 percent increases for domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers.

“We should be proud of that,” he said.